'FOOTPLATE CAMERAMAN'

PATRICROFT SHED -1


'Black 5' No 45156 Ayrshire Yeomanry was the last engine to leave Patricroft shed under her own steam on 30th of june 1968, and so a photo of the locomotive seems a natural first-choice to start the Patricroft page; it is very special to both me and dad because he took the shot to mark the closure of Patricroft MPD.
Dad mentions it in his book - 'Footplate Cameraman' published by Ian Allan in 1983. He writes: 'The best years of my railway life were spent at Patricroft: it was a period which provided me with countless memories of the great days of steam both as a footplate man and as a footplate cameraman. I made it my practice to take a camera to work and record on film some of the locomotives I worked on.
My youngest son Christopher was born at home on 20th June 1968, some 12 days before Patricroft Depot was due to close. After five days leave I was granted what was then known as a 'considerate' turn. This was mutually agreed between the management and the person concerned, the agreement being that one stayed within the district, and so was available in case of an emergency at home. In my case night duty suited me best because I could see my wife and new baby to bed before I turned out for work, and could be home first thing in the morning to help with the chores related to having a new-born child.
Having booked on at midnight as the night shedman to deal with the movement of the engines in and around the depot, I'd previously decided to mark the closure of Patricroft depot with a series of night shots, and there was one particular engine I had in mind: 'Black Five' No 45156 Ayrshire Yeomanry, which was among a number of 'Black 5s' transferred to Patricroft from Edge Hill, when that depot closed to steam traction a few months earlier.
Just before midnight on the Thursday night of that last week, No 45156 showed up on the depot. It was a fairly quiet night with no shunting to be done, so I set to work cleaning No 45156 for what was to be my last set of photographs at Patricroft. At three o'clock in the morning, after two hours work with oily rags, No 45156 was moved out and set up in a position between the old and new sheds. Then after chalking the smoke box, poking the fire up with the fire irons and putting a few rounds of coal on, No 45156 was smoking nicely and ready to be photographed.
I was just about to set up the camera for a multiple flash session when the heavens opened. The worst thing in any kind of photography is to get the camera lens wet as it distorts the image, so I was scratching around to find something I could use to protect the camera when fireman Rob Fry came wandering up the shed yard with his wife's umbrella. He was followed by fireman, Rodney Weaver - 'What's up Jim?' they inquired.
I explained the problem to them and they agreed to use the umbrella to shield the camera from the rain whilst I fired the necessary flashes. It is worth pointing out to any would-be night photographers, when using the multiple flash method it is important to fire some flashes from behind the engine to make any smoke or steam stand out. On examination of the shot of No 45156 it is noticeable that the smoke is the same shade as the sky and without back lightning the smoke effect would have been lost…'



(Above) This is the nocturnal shot
that dad refers to in his book. Sadly No 45156 was scrapped on 31st December 1968, however there is another 'Black 5' (No 45337) now masquerading as 45156. I would have preferred to have seen the original engine survive the cutters torch, but on a positive note it is thanks to everyone involved in the preservation movement that so much of our great railway heritage has survived - and that is something to be cherished.

(Below) This is a general view of Patricroft old shed; the photograph was taken from the footbridge which was used by staff as the official entrance to the depot during the early 1960s. Predominant among the Stanier engines in this shot is 'Royal Scot' class No 46124 London Scottish. The Scot will later work the 7.05pm Liverpool Road-Carlisle goods. What is so remarkable about dad's photos is that his cameras were archaic by today's digital standards; he started out with a Kodak Brownie then graduated to a Kodak Sterling with bellows and a 1/60sec top speed shutter. This was followed by a new Ensign Autorange with a shutter speed of 1/400sec and f3.8 lens, which cost him the princely sum of £15 - more than a week's wages! It goes to show that dad's commitment to steam railway photography was very real; the camera fitted firmly into his pocket and went everywhere with him. Later he treated himself to a Rollieflex then a Canon and Olympus cameras with a variety of lenses, and finally a Mamiya 645 - now we're talking serious money here! 



(Below) This shot was taken from the steps of the ash plant, one of Dad's favourite vantage points for many of his photographs at Patricroft. Here the driver of Rebuilt Patriot 4-6-0 45534 E Tootol Broadhurst has coupled the locomotive's vacuum pipe to the turntable's vacuum operated motor and is about to start the turning operation; in order to work this type of motor you needed enough steam to create 21 ins of vacuum. The alternative was to use the old-fashioned mangle handle! Dad wrote about his experience with manual turntables in his book 'From the Footplate'. 



(Below) A classic Jim Carter shot of Patricroft's coal tower looking east towards Eccles and Manchester; the coal tower was a regular vantage point where Dad took some of his best aerial shots. He was constantly on the look out for the best elevated camera positions, and at Patricroft there weren't many rusty old ladders around the depot that his camera hadn't seen the top of! In fact, the coal tower was nicknamed 'Carter's Crows Nest'! I love Dad's Patricroft shots; perhaps because I was born in 1968 and never had chance to see the day to day running of the steam shed for myself. Also I think my bias is due to Dad being a staunch Patricroft man and many of my favourite photographs were taken there. But I do know how high a coal tower is...I was about 8 years old when Dad took me up the coal tower at Carnforth. I remember him telling me that it wasn't a trip for the fainthearted and to hold on tight! It wasn't until we were half way up that the penny dropped; my heart was in my mouth, then as we climbed higher the wind lashed around us and the pigeons flapped about, but the fantastic views from the top made it all worthwhile. No wonder Dad was always up coal towers! Very happy days





(Above-Below)
 Rebuilt 'Royal Scot' No 46129 The Scottish Horse seen outside Patricroft old shed. In 1959 the 'Old Shed' was undergoing a rebuild and when completed the 'old shed' was the most modern shed, so the 'new shed' then became the oldest shed...confusing isn't it! The 'old shed' had a wooden roof and was prone to catching fire from time to time. (Below) A nicely posed shot of 'Royal Scot' 4-6-0 No 46108 Seaforth Highlander standing at the entrance to Patricroft 'Old Shed'. The loco was first allocated to 20A Leeds Holbeck followed by a move to 12A Carlisle Upperby. Carlisle engines were regular visitors to Patricroft over the years.





(Above-Below) This is another classic Jim Carter shot of Crewe North's 'Royal Scot' No 46120 Royal Inniskilling Fusilier standing in Patricroft's yard. Dad always talked about engines visiting Patricroft from other depots. This is when he started taking railway photography seriously, if only to record the everyday goings-on at the shed for his own pleasure. He never dreamed that one day other people would enjoy them too. I am very happy that he did. (Below) The celebrated 'Black 5' No 45156 Ayrshire Yeomanry and Type 2 D5080, or class 24 as I knew them as a young lad, stand side by side awaiting their next turn of duty. I have always considered myself more of a diesel enthusiast than a steam fan and during my spotting days in the 70s and 80s my preference was firmly with diesels. However this photo seriously calls that into question; sometimes things do not need to be changed. I can only imagine how Dad must have felt when a diesel turned up at his beloved Patricroft...it must have been like the end of the world for a steam fanatic like him.
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(Above-Below) 'Patriot' No 45537 Private E Sykes VC was photographed outside Patricroft's old shed. In his book 'Working Steam' Dad describes how the original parrallel-boilered 'Patriot' class locos were unpopular with engineman who called them 'Japanese Compounds'; this was due to their clumsy footplate controls and excessive dust and dirt which made working conditions unpleasant, but as far as their appearance is concerned they were as handsome as any locomotive used by British Railways. (Below) An elevated view of another unrebuilt 'Patriot' class 4-6-0 No 45543 Home Guard at rest in Patricroft's yard. This Carnforth-based locomotive was among the last of the unrebuilt members of the class to work main line trains up to it being withdrawn in late 1962. 





(Above-Below) This view of the yard is looking east towards the Manchester-Liverpool main line and shows Edge Hill's unrebuilt Patriot 4-6-0 No 45547 posing for the camera in front of the 'Coal-ole' as nicknamed by Patricroft staff. (Below) Dad took many elevated photograths of Patricroft in his time working there and this one of the 70ft turntable shows 27A Bank Hall locomotive No 45627 Sierra Leone being turned in readiness for its next duty. The shed pilot BR Standard Class 3 2-6-2T is standing by the side of the disposing cabin. 





(Above-Below) The raking light in this is photo of BR Class 7MT 'Britannia' class No 70020 Mercury shows the steps clinging perilously to the side of Patricroft's coaling tower, the top of which provided Dad with the ultimate photographic position for his elevated shots of locomotive movements in the shed yard. (Below) In the final years of steam, the Britannias could often be seen on the Manchester-Glasgow express working via the Tyldseley route. Here, No 70032 Tennyson moves down the old shed yard. 





(Above-Below) A close-up view of 'Britannia' No 70033 Charles Dickens; the loco entered traffic on the 13 December 1952 and was withdrawn from 68A Carlisle Kingmoor on 15 July 1967. Out of the fifty-five members of the Britannia classs built between 1951 and 1954, only two have suvived into preservation, the first of the class No 70000 Britannia and 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which was photographed (below) from the top of the ash plant. No 70013 was the last BR-owned steam locomotive to undergo a routine heavy overhaul at Crewe Works; the loco was out-shopped after a special ceremony in February 1967. 





(Above-Below) This photograph inside the old shed captures BR Standard class Britannia 4-6-2 No 70049 now minus its Solway Firth nameplates; the removal of nameplates for safekeeping happened a lot as the value of railway memorabilia rocketed towards the end of steam days. The coaling tower can just be seen in the top right of the shot. (Below) BR Clan Pacific no 72005 Clan Macgregor was built at Crewe Works on 9 February 1952. It was originally intended to build forty five Class 6MT Clans, but with the demise of steam gathering pace only ten were construction. This locomotive served at Carlisle Kingmoor all its working life and is seen here alngside the wall of the new shed. 





(Above) Class 9F No 92049 was photographed outside Patricroft Old Shed in a rather deserted looking yard. Later that day 92049 would work a coal train to Shrewsbury from Jackson's Sideings  in Tyldesley with Dad on the footplate. 

(Below) Here are two photographs that featured in Dad's book, 'From The Footplate'. The first one was shot from the top of ash plant, by far the best position to photograph locomotives on the Patricroft's turntable in Dad's view. Here 'Royal Scot' class No 4-6-0 No 46169 The Boy Scout has just dropped onto the table the balancing operation is obvious by the position of the fireman at the front of the  locomotive whilst the driver is looking out of the fireman's side of the cab. On this occasion perfect balance was achieved at the first attempt. 





(Above) Crewe North's 'Princess Royal' class No 46206 Princess Marie Louise was a distinguished visitor to Patricroft on Saturday 12 August 1961. However, the operating department was most concerned about how she found her way onto the depot after working a west of England train into Manchester Victoria. As it turned out, a Patricroft crew relieved the wrong train on platform 11 of Victoria, thus explaining the presence of a 'Lizzie' on shed; especially in view of the fact that they were banned from running between Salford station and Liverpool Road due to weight restrictions...after much debate the powers that be decided to get rid of the engine on the 1.18 newspaper train to Bangor on Monday 14 August; Patricroft driver Les Pinstone and fireman Fred Carter took the train to Chester were they were relieved. This involved running between Salford and Liverpool Road another couple of times and, of course, word quickly got around the Manchester spotting fraternity whereupon Patricroft shed was besieged the following day. It's well known that Dad was a Stanier fanatic, and having a 'Lizzie' on shed was a great photo opportunity; there's no doubt he wouldn't have much film left when he took this photograph. Dad wrote in his diary during the early days at Patricroft that his enthusiasm often got the better of him, and after a day working on the footplate he couldn't get home fast enough to develop his film. There were times when he loaded the developer tank under the bed sheets...I think this may well have been one of those days! 

Finally, a little bit about the legal stuff. The photographs on this site are protected by copyright, however I am willing to give permission to use the pictures as long as it is in the spirit of this page, but you do need to ask first. Dad's photos are not in the public domain...so please respect them. If you wish to make contact, my email address is below. Please note - this is not a 'clickable mail-to link via Outlook Express. You will have to email manually. Thank you.


                       chris68@blueyonder.co.uk